Monday, September 30, 2013

Universal Studios Japan's Major Wizarding World Progress

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is really coming together quickly now, as seen in this recent video posted to YouTube.  The elaborate facade for the area's major attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, can be seen going into place above.  Hard to tell for sure with all that scaffolding, but it looks pretty darn similar to the structure in Orlando.

This wider view shows the area that leads up to the massive Forbidden Journey building.  It appears as though there are roller coaster footers in place on the bottom right of this photo.  That would make sense since it was expected that a copy of Flight of the Hippogriff will be added to the Japanese Wizarding World.

Panning a bit to the right some more you can see that the buildings for Hogsmeade going up.  The angle makes it look like a lot of the structures are overlapping, but the layout appears to still follow the Orlando formula of having them line one street.  It will be easier to tell once more of the facades go up - but some structures are certainly familiar to those who've been to the Orlando version.  It will be interesting to see how all the extra space that Japan has will be incorporated into the area!

Bay Beach Finishes Another Successful Season

© Bay Beach Amusement Park
I suppose that recreating a famous wooden coaster has its benefits - at least it certainly seems that way when you consider Bay Beach Amusement Park.  Back in 2011 the park opened the Zippin Pippin, a rebuilt of the original ride from Libertyland.  Since then the park has seen a great increase in visitors and spending, and that momentum continued this year when they debuted a new ride - the Sea Dragon.

The new ride cost the local government run park a hefty price, but it has already started to pay off.  It opened late in the summer so it will be featured heavily in the 2014 season - it sounds like there probably won't be another new ride for the park quite yet.

The 2013 season marked the Zippin Pippin's one millionth rider, a great accomplishment for the park.  Some local folks questioned the building of the ride, and it's always fun to see how successful it has been and how prosperous the park now is!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

From The Vault: Wild Adventures 1998 Brochure + Map

The late 1990s were an exciting time for Wild Adventures theme park, located in Valdosta, Georgia.  The park was seeing major expansions, and in 1998 when this media is from that was still quite true.

The cover of the brochure for the year - which is actually a larger sized booklet - advertises some of the additions for the year.  There were both new rides and animal attractions, each of which are key draws for the park.

Here we get a good look at all that was new at the park.  The text here indicates that there were "25 great new family rides for kids of all ages."  The biggest thrill ride that had been added was the Boomerang, but a slew of new flat rides also opened at the park.  These included a Time Warp, Aviator, Chaos, Pharaoh's Fury, and Tilt-a-Whirl among others.  The Plunge was a new wet/dry slide combo that many appreciated during the Summer heat.

While lots of rides had been added the animal attractions at the park were still an important factor in bringing in visitors.  Plenty of exhibits let guests see Elephants, lion, tigers (oh my!), monkeys and plenty more.  The concerts that were held at the park were also a draw - along with the nightly "Wild Laser Adventures" show.

The back of the pamphlet, like most at the time, featured the details such as hours and prices.  Also like most parks they were pushing their season pass, which was a rather cheap $59.95 in 1998.

This is the park map that was given out that year, though it was a bit vague for my tastes.  It has been detailed significantly since then, but it at least gave an idea of where the rides vs. animal attractions were located.  If you compare this to a more recent map you can quickly see just how much expansion has taken place at the park since then!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aerial Antics: Valleyfair Updated

We last featured Valleyfair in Aerial Antics some three and a half years ago, and the park has has numerous developments since then.  With Google's nice clear 45 degree angle shots, I figured why not see what's been going on - from above that is.

In 2009 Valleyfair renamed their water park to Soak City, and added a massive wave pool named Breakers Bay.  Seen above, the wave pool replaced the park's aging log flume, which was quite sad, but a smart business move.  The park was also able to complete some smaller renovations that year - though most would say Valleyfair's water park is still in need of a sizable expansion.

General upkeep is something that Valleyfair has also spent some time on.  When we last saw aerials of the park the Mad Mouse roller coaster was a faded mess of pink and purple, but since then it has been repainted a bright yellow and orange color scheme.

While on the subject of paint, Valleyfair's Corkscrew also looks quite different than it did a few years ago.  The classic Arrow Dynamics ride, installed in 1980, ditched its blues and received aqua supports, orange track, and yellow inversions.

2011 was a big year for families at Valleyfair, when the park renovated and expanded their children's area into Planet Snoopy.  Filled with new family and children rides, the expansive area can be seen in the shot above. 

In all fairness, the first aerial antics post we were able to feature both construction and finished shots of Renegade, the park's GCI wooden coaster - but this one just looked pretty so I wanted to feature it.  The ride has a very unique layout, moving out beyond the main part of the park on its journey.

Finally we look toward the future, with the park just having announced a new family area named Route 76 for the park's 2014 season.  The section seen above, mostly where the go-karts can be seen, will be totally gutted and filed with moved and new family rides.

To zoom around the park from above, click here to head to Google's maps.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kings Island Tops Off Banshee

Exciting news in the construction of Banshee at Kings Island, the park topped out what will be the world's longest inverted roller coaster today!

The ride can be seen on the park's live webcam, a shot of which is above.  The lift hill appears to be pretty steep and is towering over the park already.

© Kings Island
The park also tweeted this photo of the highest piece of track being carefully lifted into place.  I would assume that the coaster's curving first drop will go in next week.  It's all down hill from here!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Large New Slide Coming to Branson's White Water

White Water, located near Silver Dollar City in the Branson, Missouri area, is teasing the addition of what they promise to be their biggest water slide attraction to date.  The new ride, the details of which are being kept secret for now, will premier next summer.

© White Water
In order to make room for the attraction, the park's 25 year old Bermuda Triangle water slide was recently removed from the park.  The classic slide has served hundreds of thousands of guests over its life, but had reached the end of its service at the park.  The water park actually invited the media out to see the destruction of the ride, since it was such a long standing ride at the park.

White Water points out that the Bermuda Triangle was one of the first fiberglass water slides in the nation.  A part of the slide and its sign will be send to Texas to be a part of the National Roller Coaster Museum, according to this article.

The new for 2014 attraction is only said to be the "biggest thrill" yet for the park, and will cost in the neighborhood of $2 million to build. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Valleyfair Adding New Family Area for 2014 Season

Another interesting (in a good way!) Cedar Fair announcement took place today.  Valleyfair has announced the addition of a brand new section of the park, named Route 76, which hearkens back to the year the park opened (1976) and features rides for the whole family.

Concept art of the new area.
The new section will reside mostly in the former location of the park's go-karts, which are being retired.  Tucked in between Steel Venom, the large helices of Wild Thing, and the brand new Picnic Point area, Route 76 will have a total of four rides.

The current location of Route 76, only the mini-golf is already gone.
The park will move two of its existing attractions, the Scrambler and the Tilt-a-Whirl, into Route 76 from their current locations in the park.  Both rides will feature new theming and LED lighting in their new homes.  When Dinosaurs Alive! was added to the park they displaced the Antique Autos, and those will also return next year with new Cadillac styled cars on a brand new course.

A brand new ride will also be added to Route 76, and that's the Northern Lights.  Being dubbed by the park as a family coaster, the ride appears to be a Zamperla Disk'O Coaster - which Cedar Point will also receive next year.  The ride will take a car spinning along 300 feet of track up to a maximum height of 42 feet.  At night the ride will be aglow with a mix of blue, green, and purple colors that are reminiscent of the real Northern Lights.

The addition of Route 76 to Valleyfair is another great example of the new placemaking direction that Cedar Fair is headed in.  I can't say how happy I am that these types of developments are being added to the parks - the Boardwalk at Knott's turned out great and now 2014 will see Cedar Point, Kings Dominion, and Valleyfair get their turn.  I can only hope this direction continues and spreads to the other parks!

SeaWorld to Debut Float in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
This fall the millions who take part in watching the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be able to see SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's unique float debut.  The float will be titled "A Sea of Surprises" and stretch 32 feet long and stand 27 feet tall.

"From sea turtles, penguins and angel fish to sharks and breaching whales, amazing sea sculptures abound on the new float. Featuring rolling ocean waves, the gentle movement of swaying kelp and a vibrant school of tropical fish, the scene will take spectators on an extraordinary undersea journey. Taking center stage on the “A Sea of Surprises” float is the iconic Shamu, breaching 27-feet above the millions of Parade spectators lining the streets of Manhattan."

“We are thrilled to debut our SeaWorld “A Sea of Surprises” float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a tribute to SeaWorld’s 50th celebration,” said Jim Atchison, President and CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Next year the parks will commemorate this milestone with a year-long celebration at the three SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio. We hope this festive float represents the fun, inspiration and surprises that guests will find during a visit to SeaWorld.”

SeaWorld Parks across the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the parks with a long celebration that includes numerous surprises and special events.  The 87th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, November 28th 2013 and be aired on NBC.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Intamin Launch Coaster for Turkey's Vialand

Concept art of the new coaster
A brand new theme park that opened earlier this year in Turkey, named Vialand, is wrapping up construction of an impressive looking Intamin launch coaster.

The ride is listed as opening this October, but only referred to as LSM Coaster on the park's website, named for its launch system.

Coasters and More has a great gallery of shots of both the theme park and the new Intamin ride, taken when there were only a few pieces left to go up.  The ride starts with a launch down the cherry red track and into a large top hat - the end of which dips well below the grade of the launch track using the park's elevation changes.  From there the trains encounter a large air-time hill and then climb up into an Immelman.  A dive down below grade again brings a tight series of curves, then a steep climb into a heartline that reminds me of the one on Hersheypark's Storm Runner.  Looks good!

Vialand has an interesting selection of rides and attraction, including one of the King Kong themed Huss flat rides, seen above.  There is also a fun looking family coaster (another Intamin design) along with several water rides, two dark rides and some flats.

The Vialand theme park is located adjacent to a new indoor/outdoor shopping center, along with a performing arts center.  If successful I will be interested to see what other rides come on board in future years.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Disney Shanghai Castle and Newly Running Mine Train

© whoisBMH via Twitter
I really like how 'bulky' the Shanghai Disneyland castle appears to have been designed.  It seems more realistic to me, and I supposed that's needed in order to contain more inside of it than at the other parks.  On Twitter this photo appeared, and while I'm not sure it's totally new it was definitely new to me.  The park is still in a ground work stage so there hasn't been much news about it in many months... at least not as far as rides and attractions are concerned.

There's another photo shared as well, this one is a head-on perspective.

© Disney
Just today Disney shared on their official blog that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the last big part of the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland, had completed its first test run.  Successfully!

The photo that they released, along with one additional one, gives us a great view of the themed trains for the coaster.  The cars are able to swing side to side while it heads around the track, adding an extra element to the experience.  The coaster is aimed at families, so I wouldn't expect it too be all that thrilling - but it should be a neat experience.  The level of theming is top notch from what we've seen thus far, and will include an indoor dark ride section featuring all the Dwarfs.

Disney Studios Paris Releases Ratatouille Details

© Disneyland Paris
Under construction for what seems like ages now, the Disneyland Paris Resort has finally released the full name of the new Ratatouille themed ride going into Disney Studios Paris.  Translated into Ratatouille: The Crazy Adventures of Remy, the attraction will be refereed to officially in French as Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy.

The dark ride will shrink riders down to the size of a mouse as they head through Remy's adventures through the kitchen.  As seen in the first concept art released by the park (above), the ride's vehicles will look like a mouse - though not Remy himself.  Plenty of over-sized kitchen sets along with other props are being fabricated for the inside of the ride.

For some recent photos of the outside facade of the attraction check out the Disney and More blog.  The ride's buildings - and adjacent restaurant - look to be beautifully themed.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From The Vault: Action Park 1996 Brochure and Map

Who remembers the wild and crazy Action Park?  It was located in Vernon Township, New Jersey, and operated until 1996 (the year of this brochure) before being closed and eventually sold.  I came across this brochure in the files and thought it would be a nice fit for From The Vault.

During its heyday Action Park featured separate attractions on the grounds, including a water park, go-karts, and an alpine slide.  All of the attractions were known for having a flair of danger associated with them, whether that was totally real or imagined I'm not sure.  The park was certainly known for pushing the boundaries with its attractions, however.  You can get your fill of reading about the park's famous looping water slide (a real loop) and raging water channels on its Wikipedia page. (the page is extremely biased however, almost sounding like it was written by a lawyer.)

Now in 1996 the park had spent some time cleaning up its image, at least somewhat.  It was associated with the Great Gorge Resort, which features tons of activities like sports and pools and golf and more - the entire complex was pushed as an overnight retreat.  That's why the page above focuses on the resort aspect exclusively.

But during this era of Action Park the water park and other activities were the big draw.  The water park had some traditional slides, but also many unique channels and rivers flowing down the side of the mountain.  There was also a large wave pool and more active attractions like mini-cliff jumping and rope swings.  This video from YouTube shows off the park in 1991, including the rafts on some of the more adventurous rides.

The dry section of the property had lots of different rides, including a Space Shot that only stayed at the park for a short time.  It was new in 1996, and was probably moved to another park a long time ago. There were also go-karts, speed boats, bumper boats, a tank ride, bungee jumping and more.

The park also included this map of the property, though pretty significantly not to scale.  You can still get a nice idea of what the park offered, and where it was located.  Only a handful of items shown here are still in operation today.

Action Park was sold and then the water park was reopened as Mountain Creek.  Later down the line it changed hands again, but has stayed open.  You can browse their webpage here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Halloween Weekends Return to Holiday World

Back this Fall at Holiday World, located in Santa Claus, IN, is Happy Halloween Weekends.  This non-scary celebration of Halloween features tons of activities and special treats for the whole family.

A neat feature of the event is the enormous corn maze, seen in an aerial shot above.  There's also a smaller maze designed for little ones to head through.  A live show, named Graveyard Smash, will entertain guests with zombie singers and dancers performing today's hits.

This year's Happy Halloween Weekends features some new attractions as well.  Above is the outside of the Mummy's Treasure Maze.  The maze features a hieroglyphic challenge to those who enter.  Also new is Gordon's Tales from the Patch which is described by the park as an animatronic-pumpkin show.

Here we see guests going through Holidog's 3D Halloween Adventure, a non-haunted house filled with colorful 3D images.  The family friendly attraction is sure to impress visitors who wear special glasses to see the images come to life.

Other activities during the event include a Halloween themed Magic Show, Laser Light Show on Saturday nights and plenty of smaller activities for kids.  Guests are allowed to wear their best family-friendly costumes, the park just asks that no masks are worn.

To read more about the event you can check out the park's official website for Happy Halloween Weekends.  The fun starts this weekend and lasts until October 21st.

Friday, September 20, 2013

FunTown Pier Owner Vows to Rebuild After Fire

FunTown Pier in happier times.
After the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, and the recent fire that totally destroyed anything the park had left, one might think that the owners of FunTown Pier would just give up.  Not so, however, as they are planing on rebuilding even bigger and better than before.

There were a few rides left where the pier was located that survived Sandy, but the fire has totally reduced everything to ash.  You can see photos of the remains in this story.

The owner of the pier was working on rebuilding when the fire hit, seeking approvals to extend the pier by 300 feet when it was rebuilt.  Now the little that is left will have to be demolished, but that hasn't changed the mind of owners - just set them back a little bit further.

In a strange sense it almost gives them a clean slate to work with, though the cost of rebuilding has gone up no doubt.  After Sandy the plan was to reopen in 2014, but that's probably impossible at this point due to the fire.

Hopefully the area can get a break now so that plans for the rebuild can move forward.  We certainly wish them luck!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Carowinds Brings More Fear to Haunt 2013 + 300 Ft. Coaster Planned

Carowinds just can't help but keep in the spotlight these days, and I must say I like it!  The park has spent significant capital this year to expand their SCarowinds Halloween Haunt event, seeing three new attractions debut in one year.  The frightening event started this past weekend and will run though October 27th.

Zombie High is the park's new indoor haunted maze.  Set in a decrepit high school that has been totally overrun by zombies, visitors will "need more than brains to survive Homecoming" while inside.  The maze joins six others at the park, including classics such as Cornstalkers and Silver Scream Sinema.

The park's other two new attractions for Haunt are outdoor scare zones, the first of which is London Terror.  A steampunk styled London setting makes for foggy streets that are filled with ghouls.  The props and scenery that were built for this scare zone are most impressive, including a giant Big Ben tower that stands over the whole area.

Everyone loved fairy tales when they were little, but SCarowinds has taken those cherished stories and twisted them so that "no one lives happily ever after."  Set in a dark forest, the stories come to life in a most demented way and guests are left to find their way out.

SCarowinds will have a total of 500 monsters in the park when in operation between the mazes and scare zones.  That's a lot of creeps to try to avoid!  The Overlord rules over these creatures, bringing them to life and setting them free to roam the park.  Three live shows are also included in the event, including the brand new Night Terrors monster rock show.

“SCarowinds Halloween Haunt continues to grow larger and more lurid each and every year as we’ve developed it into the premier Halloween event in the Carolinas,” said Bart Kinzel, Vice President and General Manager of Carowinds.  “The goal each year is to exceed our guest’s expectations.  With the addition of 3 NEW Haunted attractions there will certainly be the opportunity to send guests home afraid to sleep through the night after their visit!”

How about that roller coaster news?  In another story about the tax incentives the park will receive for their big expansion, some details came out about the coaster that is planned.

Costing in the neighborhood of $30 million, the new coaster will stand over 300 feet tall, and be located on the North Carolina side of the park.  Noting it would be the third of its size in the U.S. and one of five in the world, it is estimated it could bring almost an additional 400,000 visitors to Carowinds.

The map above shows the state line divide running through the park, and there's plenty of open space for a giga-coaster to start at in the North Carolina side of the park.  Wouldn't it be odd if the station was where the go-karts are, just like Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland?  It could then run toward the park's entrance, also in similar Leviathan fashion.

Can't wait to hear more about the proposed ride, sounds like it is going to be a huge addition to the park!